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Hiking guide for Columbia

Check out these eight hiking trails catering to all skill levels in and around Columbia, SC, for outdoor adventures.

congaree river

Walk along Columbia’s trails to enjoy river + skyline views. | Photo by @realadampowell

Table of Contents

From quick and easy loops around town to drives that take you to fantastic lakes and mountains, our city has so many options to hit the trail. So lace up your hiking boots, because we’ve compiled a hiking guide for the Midlands area with eight routes and trails to help you plan your next adventure and experience breathtaking views.

Note: While parks and trails may be listed as open, we recommend checking park websites before visiting for further info, current trail conditions, and the safest practices for the area.

Key: Easy = 🥾| Moderate = 🥾🥾 | Hard = 🥾🥾🥾


Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve, Guignard Clay Quarry Loop Trail

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 2.5 miles
  • Dog friendly: Yes

This moderately challenging route takes locals ~43 min to complete. This trail is open year-round and be aware that parts of the trail may be muddy, so locals recommend going when it’s been beautiful outside for a few days in a row.

Congaree National Park Trails

The Boardwalk Loop Trail is wheelchair accessible. | Photo by @hdcarolina

Central SC

Congaree National Park, Boardwalk Loop Trail

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 2.6 miles
  • Dog friendly: Yes
  • Wheelchair accessible: Yes

If you’re looking for a relaxing walk through the hardwood forest where you can observe many types of trees and wildlife throughout the walk, this trail is for you. The boardwalk is stroller and wheelchair accessible; however, the park is within a floodplain, so check the trails’ conditions before going. If you want more of a challenge, check out Weston Lake Loop Trail (4.4 miles), Oakridge Trail (~7 miles), or River Trail (~10 miles).


Great Falls, SC, Rocky Creek Trail

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: ~2 miles
  • Dog friendly: Yes

This hike provides canoe and kayak access, as it runs along Rocky Creek, a tributary of the Catawba River. Pro tip: extend your hike by 0.2 miles and see a waterfall. This is also a great trail for birdwatchers because several rock outcroppings provide ideal locations to observe birds.


Palmetto Trail

Trek through 500 miles of trails across the state. | Photo by @moholton.jpg

The Palmetto Trail, The Peak to Prosperity Passage

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 10.7 miles
  • Dog friendly: Yes

The Palmetto trail connects over 500 miles of trails that trek through all of SC, and The Peak to Prosperity Passage proceeds from the Alston trailhead in Fairfield County across the Broad River. Enjoy views from the 1,100-foot-long bridge and keep your eyes peeled for eagles and other wildlife like beavers. See over 30 passages you can take around our state here.

Three Rivers Greenway

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 12.5 miles
  • Dog friendly: Yes
  • Wheelchair accessible: Yes

The Three Rivers Greenway is currently a 12.5-mile linear park that runs through Columbia, West Columbia, and Cayce. This path runs along three riverfront pathways – where the Broad and Saluda riversand form the Congaree.The trail is a dog-friendly and ADA-accessible environment and includes boardwalks, public restrooms, and views of Columbia’s rivers.


Harbison State Forest, Firebreak

  • Difficulty level: 🥾
  • Length: 4.4 miles
  • Dog friendly: Yes

Hike this trail if you’re looking for an outing that’s good for all skill levels. It’s one of the most popular trails in the park and crosses over the Broad River. This trail also connects all other trails in the park. If you’re looking for a slightly more difficult route within the park, try the Midlands Mountain trail. You’ll climb over a ridge and then descend to the river bed.


A view of the Milky Way at Dreher Island State Park | Photo by @jorackliffphotography


Dreher Island State Park, Little Gap Trail

  • Difficulty level: 🥾
  • Length: 2.1 miles
  • Dog friendly: Yes

The Little Gap Trail is the longest of the three trails in the park. Hikers can expect to see a thick forest of pines and hardwoods, so keep your eyes open for rare bird sightings. Loop the peninsula and catch some lake views.

Sandhills region

Sesquicentennial State Park, Sandhills Hiking Trail

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 1.9 miles
  • Dog friendly: Yes

Hike this trail if you’re looking for a relaxing walk around the lake. The bridge over Jackson Creek also offers waterfall views. Pro tip: You can also take the Jackson Creek Nature Trail down to the waterfall.

Get the right gear

Get the most out of your trip with comfortable, handy, and helpful hiking gear:

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